Okay, so after looking at all the draft stuff I can stand, I think the Vikes are going to go with a LB, I really do. Let me walk this logic backwards:
Percy Harvin is probably off the board, and Childress said before the draft last season, I think it was, that WR’s in general are really a crap shoot in the first round, and I agree, so I don’t see them going in that direction. RB is not a need, and I think the TOA doesn’t believe QB is. I must grudgingly give it up for Shiancoe, as he really emerged last season, so TE is off the board, eliminating all skill positions.
That leaves the o-line. Sullivan looks to be the next Matt Birk, and Herrera and Hutch are a pretty good guard tandem. McKinnie is locked in at LT, and I think with Ryan Cook you have what I call Tarvaris Jackson syndrome. Cook was a high round Childress pick, like Jackson, and Childress has a lot in terms of reputation on the line to see the kid succeed, much like Jackson, albeit not as much as he has invested with TJ. Many detractors think he was taken too high, like Jackson, and as a player, Cook has yet to achieve what the coaches envisioned him doing when drafted, much like Jackson. He’s also shown flashes of good play with maddening periods of mediocrity and inconsistency, also like Jackson. And I think Cook showed enough last year to warrant giving him ample opportunity to remain the RT, but he has got to cut down on his penalties.
On the d-line, DE appears to be set, especially with Kenechi Udeze coming back, which will be a huge emotional lift. DT looks good as well. After re-signing Jimmy Kennedy and Fred Evans, there’s really no room for a new guy. You can make an argument for DB, especially with Antoine Winfield getting up there, but they re-signed Benny Sapp, signed Carl Paymah as a FA, and already had decent depth for both CB and S. I can see adding a guy in the later rounds, but I don’t see DB as a first round pick, especially when you factor in who’s probably available.
That leaves LB. EJ’s coming off of an injury, Ben Leber is good, but is north of 30, and after Chad Greenway, there really isn’t anyone that can jump in and start. Erin Henderson? No. Heath Farwell? Good special teams guy, but not really. I mean, they had to bring Napoleon Harris back after EJ got hurt. Nap did a great job as a stopgap, but they let him go again. So LB is very thin after you get past the starters. Almost every mock draft I see has either James Laurinaitis, Ray Maualuga, or both available at that spot. Both are high character guys, both have great college pedigrees, and yeah, you think I want them to pick Laurinaitis because he’s a Buckeye, but he can also play on the outside, and he’s a local Minnesota kid. Childress hit the jackpot with the ‘local kid, Big 10 LB, high character guy’ trifecta with Greenway in 2006, and that has to be factored in as well.
So with everyone screaming for the Vikes to take a tackle, I think the Vikes mildly surprise some folks and go with either Maualuga or Laurinaitis. If they’re both on the board, it’s Laurinaitis.